TIFF 2016: The Girl With All The Gifts Review

Midnight Madness

The Girl With All The Gifts is yet another zombie movie. Granted, it’s not a bad one. In fact, it’s rather well made and impressively acted for this sort of thing. There are even a few clever ideas tossed in that add something to this particularly overplayed subgenre. The trouble is that it’s still just a zombie movie and the conventions have become so commonplace over the last decade that it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for another trip down the zombie well. 

The movie stars a sweet little girl (Sennia Nanua, excellent in the lead) who loves to learn and has heart big enough for everyone. Unfortunately she’s a zombie, so whenever the odour-concealing cream wears off the survivors holding her captive and and she can smell human flesh, she goes nuts. Her teacher Gemma Arterton is so impressed by the girl that she has hope for the zombie race. The scientist in charge (Glenn Close) just wants to crack open her skull and scoop out a cure. So there’s a bit of tension there. It gets worse when the secret army base they call home is overrun by far less friendly zombies. Next thing you know, the trio are on the road in search of safety with a group of angry soldiers led by the consistently excellent Paddy Considine. 

That’s quite a cast for a late inning zombie flick, so the drama is credible and often in tense. The script (written by Mike Carey, based on his own book) is quite clever and filled with intriguing twists on zombie lore. First time filmmaker Colm McCarthy shoots it all like an epic well beyond its meagre budget, complete with sprawling overgrown cityscapes and a beige hue quite reminiscent of The Last Of Us. The movie works and for a while it seems like it might even shoot some fresh life into the undead genre. Unfortunately once all the new ideas are played out, the thing just turns into yet another zombie siege movie (only with a gang zombie kids that are a bit silly to be honest) and it merely feels like the filmmakers are checking off boxes until the credits roll. Oh well. At least it’s a decent entry in the zombie canon and there can’t be many more of these things left to be made, right? Dare to dream. 



Wednesday Sept. 14, 11:59pm @ Ryerson

Sunday Sept. 18, 12:45pm @ Scotiabank 12